Friday, 10 November 2017

Herepath Half - Up, up and away....

“Running is nothing more than a series of arguments between the part of your brain that wants to stop and the part that wants to keep going.” - Unknown

After a long week and many changes to my schedule, I picked up Nicky Gee, Mark Owen and Ian Tuckett early on Sunday 29th October to head down to Taunton for the Herepath Half marathon.  We had been convinced by Ali Bisatt, who had recently moved to Taunton, to enter the race organised by his new club.  This would be 5 LC24 Warriors in the place at the same time, unheard of.

We arrived just before 9:30 at the Thurlbear Primary School, the race HQ, and picked up our race numbers but Ali had already left to take up a marshalling point on the course.  We had all read the brief and seen the route elevation, this would be a race of two halves with some mud in the middle.

After wandering around the school, getting into trouble and trying not to get cold it was soon time to get ready and attend the brief at 10:15, then at 10:30 the gates were opened and traffic stopped.  Off we went!!

Nicky, Ian, Mark & me - we can dream.
The route went through the village and turned right along the unmarked road until about the half mile point where we crossed a field and then were ushered across a road back onto a minor road until the road gave way to a trail and started the first climb.   Ian started climbing away from us and I stayed with Mark and Nicky for support.  At 1.5 mile the path levelled briefly before climbing steeply again.  At 2 miles I was "encouraged" to go and so headed off up the hill.

At 2.5 miles the route descended again, a short respite, before again climbing.  I started picking off runners and at 3 miles could see Ian ahead of me, catching him at the 4-mile aid station.   Parts of the path now started to become very muddy, shin-deep shoe removing mud!  The going was slow and no shoes would have given the runner any advantage.  I was still able to pass a few more runners through this section before we finally cleared the bog and at 5 miles the route became comfortable again and I was able to pick up my pace.  The weather had been good in the weeks before the race, the course could have been a lot worse had it rained.

I passed Rich Morely, a fellow FAC OFF runner, but not before a quick snap!  Rich had said at the briefing that adding 25 minutes to your road marathon time would be a good guide to the finishing time, he was correct.

Rich Morely getting photobombed.

The course between miles 6 and 7 wound around the woods and headed down from the hills we had climbed in the first half of the race.  I continued to pick off runners, using the strength in my legs, built up by the many miles run throughout the year, to power down the hillside.  At 8 miles the course levelled briefly before dropping steeply yet again for over a mile, passing out of the woods and down towards Pound Road at mile 11, crossing over to follow a narrow track along hedgerows and then following narrow roads, through into mile 12 where I found Ali, dropping off a bottle of Tailwind to be collected later.

Mile 13 saw the last hill of the course past, Sturm's Hill Plantation and down through Great Boles woods, bursting out of the woods back into the village of Thurlbear passing the church and entering the school gates to the finish the 13.7 miles in 2:15:23 (93/166).  After the initial 2 miles, I was only passed by one runner and I finished with plenty of energy.

Running up that hill...
I collect my etched glass and had a few cups of water to hydrate.  Ian followed me in shortly at 2:18:23 and we headed back to the car to change and get warm.  We returned to the finish to watch Nicky cross the finish line at 2:38:33 and then Mark at 2:45:49 - faster than his Devizes Half marathon time.

After everyone was ready we headed off to a pub, where Ali caught up with us, to find some well-earnt lunch.  A great day out.  Thank you.

Me, Ian, Ali, Mark and Nicky
Would I do it again? Hell, yes! A brilliant course, well organised and staffed.  This may become a yearly pilgrimage.   Do this race!!!!

The course, in its glory.

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